21 October 2014

Think Tank: Is Australia’s influence over Papua New Guinea declining?

By Joanne Wallis

Australian Defence white papers have long identified the strategic import of ‘a secure South Pacific and Timor-Leste’. As renowned strategic thinker T.B. Millar once reflected, Papua New Guinea is an ‘an exposed and vulnerable front door’, as if it was in ‘hostile hands’ it would ‘make attacks on our east coast much easier—Port Moresby, after all, is closer to Sydney than Darwin is’.

Australia is Papua New Guinea’s largest aid and military donor (primarily via the Defence Cooperation Program and the Pacific Patrol Boat program), and trade and investment partner. Australia also effectively gave PNG a security guarantee under the 1987 Joint Declaration of Principles, as reaffirmed in the 2000 Defence White Paper (PDF). Consequently, Australia has been able to exercise considerable influence over Papua New Guinea for much of the period since its independence.

This situation is changing. Papua New Guinea now has new opportunities which are eroding Australia’s influence.

AUS: Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter upgrade

Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston today announced he has given Combined Pass approval for an interim Tactical Data Link for the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters in service with the Australian Army.

Under LAND 2089 Phase 3B, a total of 21 Tiger helicopters will be upgraded with a tactical information exchange solution that further integrates the Tiger into the combined arms land force battlespace.

“The interim Tactical Data Link will improve the Tiger’s situational awareness in the battlespace by improving the helicopter’s ability to receive in flight tactical positioning of friendly and known enemy forces,” Senator Johnston said.

“Through this data link the Tigers will be able to share targeting information, coordinate battlefield movements and tactical objectives, and transmit real-time reconnaissance information between the aircraft and the land forces.”

USA: US, ROK Navies to Hone Mine Countermeasures Skills

By Lt. Arlo Abrahamson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs

<< Mine countermeasures ships USS Chief (MCM 14) and USS Warrior (MCM 10), background, sit along piers in Chinhae, Oct. 19. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Frank L. Andrews)

CHINHAE, Republic of Korea - The U.S. and Republic of Korea navies will participate in exercise Clear Horizon, Oct. 20-24, in waters south of the Korean peninsula.

Clear Horizon is an annual bilateral exercise between the U.S. and ROK navies designed to enhance cooperation and improve capabilities in mine countermeasure operations.

"We achieve mine countermeasure proficiency by rehearsing scenarios at sea and developing key mine warfare skill sets," said Rear Adm. Lisa Franchetti, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea. "Clear Horizon provides both navies an important opportunity to improve coordination and increase readiness in critical mine countermeasure capabilities."

India: Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha’s Visit to Japan

Arup Raha (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki)

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha leaves on a four day visit to Japan on October 21, 2014 to participate in the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force(JASDF). 

During the visit the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha would meet Prime Minister Mr Shinzo Abe, Defence Minister Mr Akinori Eto, Gen Harukazu Saitoh, Chief of Staff, JASDF. During the Symposium in Japan the Chief of Air Staff would be interacting with the Air Chiefs of Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, United Kingdom and Commander PACAF of USA. The discussions would be on ‘Future of Air Power and Science & Technology’ and Tasks of Future Air Force for Stabilisation of Asia Pacific Region’. The Chief would visit the Hyakuri Air Base for an Air review and would visit the defence equipment display. 

This visit assumes great significance in view of the recent visit by Prime Minister Modi to Japan. India is looking forward to upgrade and strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries and contributing towards international peace keeping and peace building.

India: INS Teg Visits Simon's Town, South Africa for IBSAMAR

Indian Navy Frigate: INS Teg (File Photo)

Indian Naval Ship Teg, a Stealth Frigate of the Indian Navy, is scheduled to make port calls at Simon’s Town and Cape Town between 20th October and 10th November 2014. The ship will participate in the fourth edition of the biennial India-Brazil-South Africa Maritime (IBSAMAR) Exercise. The port call at Simon’s Town will coincide with the visit of Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, PVSM, AVSM, ADC, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command. 

INS Teg is the 9th Indian Naval ship to participate in IBSAMAR to strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between the three nations. The visit also seeks to underscore India’s solidarity with countries of the Indian Ocean Region. 

The ship sailed from her base port Mumbai on 1st October 2014 as part of a four-ship Task Group headed by Rear Admiral R Hari Kumar, VSM, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet. During the ship’s stay in harbour at Simon’s Town, various activities are planned including professional interaction between naval personnel. On departure from South Africa, the ship is scheduled to make a port call at Mozambique before returning to Mumbai in end Nov 2014. 

INS Teg, built at Kaliningrad, Russia was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 27th April 2012. The ship is a guided missile Stealth Frigate with formidable arsenal. The ship is commanded by Captain Anand Yeshwant Sardesai and is manned by a crew of 25 officers and 220 sailors.

Industry: CAE awarded contracts to support New Zealand Defence Force SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite synthetic training devices

RNZAF SH-2G Super Seasprite
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Wellington, New Zealand, October 21, 2014 - (NYSE: CAE; TSX: CAE) - Today at the New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) annual forum, CAE announced it has been awarded contracts by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to support its SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite helicopter synthetic training devices.

Under terms of the contracts, CAE will perform updates to an existing SH-2G(I) Full Mission Flight Simulator (FMFS) and SH-2G(I) Part Task Trainer (PTT) that the NZDF is acquiring as part of a comprehensive acquisition of ten SH-2G(I) helicopters from Kaman Corporation. Following delivery of the SH-2G(I) synthetic training devices to Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland in Whenuapai, CAE will provide through-life support and maintenance services for 15 years.

News Report: Australian Special Forces to Advise Iraqis on Islamic State Fight

Phil Mercer

SYDNEY—Australia will soon send 200 special forces troops to Iraq to advise and assist Iraqi security forces in their fight against Islamic State militants. Australian warplanes are part of the U.S.-led coalition in the Middle East, and have already begun bombing raids on jihadist targets in Iraq

It has taken several weeks for officials to agree to a legal framework for the deployment of Australian Special Forces in Iraq.

Some 200 commandos have been stationed for the past month at a U.S. base in the United Arab Emirates waiting for an agreement to be finalized. They will act as advisers and help Iraqi forces fight Islamic State militants, who have seized a large swathe of territory across parts of Syria and Iraq.

Australian Super Hornet jet fighters have been flying almost daily combat missions against Islamic State targets in northern Iraq, but the deal between Canberra and Baghdad specifically precludes Australian troops from taking part in fighting on the ground.

Editorial: North Korea to Engage or Provoke?

By Clint Richards

North Korea’s erratic behavior continues to draw regional diplomatic attention.

After North Korea’s initial response on Thursday to former U.S. Secretary of State Leon Panetta’s book, in which he outlined the U.S.’s preparedness to use nuclear weapons in the event of an invasion by the North, Pyongyang made further moves on Sunday and Monday to underline its dissatisfaction with its southern neighbor and Seoul’s security guarantor. However, these responses come amidst overt attempts by North Korea to open dialogue with the South, as it appears Pyongyang is undecided on which course to take in extracting concessions. At the same time, Japan continues to seek progress in its bilateral negotiations with Pyongyang, which both South Korea and the U.S. eager for any information from the Hermit Kingdom and its new leader that may come from talks, which could happen as early as this month.
On Sunday South Korea’s defense ministry said gunfire was exchanged near their shared border when North Korean soldiers approached, but failed to retreat after warning shots were fired. Both sides then exchanged fire for 10 minutes, although there were no reported casualties or even property damage. This is the third exchange of gunfire between the two countries in October, after two patrol boats engaged each other near Yeongpyeong Island on the 7th and a brief exchange took place on the 10th when activists from South Korea dropped anti-Pyongyang propaganda north of the border.
After the shooting near the border, on Monday Pyongyang’s official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reaffirmed its commitment to countering U.S. “nuclear aggression” on the peninsula, saying its nuclear arsenal would be boosted “both in quality and quantity” in response to the revelation in Panetta’s memoir. It also used the instance as a further excuse to justify its nuclear weapons program as a “precious sword of justice,” or deterrent against a potential U.S. attack. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: China-Vietnam Defense Hotline Agreed - What Next?

By Carl Thayer

Beijing and Hanoi are looking to reset bilateral relations following a turbulent year.

When the China-Vietnam oil rig crisis broke out in May, regional analysts opined that bilateral relations had been set back several decades as a result of the worst crisis since the 1979 border war. This assessment was premature. There are now signs that Beijing and Hanoi are moving to reset their relations and pick up where they were prior to the oil rig crisis.
The oil rig crisis witnessed physical confrontations by Chinese and Vietnamese civilian law enforcement vessels, an upsurge in anti-China sentiment in Vietnam including violent anti-China riots, the evacuation of Chinese workers from Vietnam, a drop in Chinese tourism to Vietnam, and Vietnamese threats to take international legal action against China. There were even calls by Vietnam’s political elite “to exit China’s orbit.”
Initially China played diplomatic hardball and rebuffed all Vietnamese efforts to send special envoys and to open up bilateral channels of communications between government ministries and agencies most directly affected. Vietnamese leaders held two main concerns. First, they could not appear to be buckling under pressure from Beijing, especially given the intensity of domestic anti-China sentiment. Second, Vietnamese leaders wanted to contain the fallout from the oil rig crisis and prevent it from damaging the broader bilateral relationship.
Chinese leaders also had a re-think. On June 18, State Councilor Yang Jiechi traveled to Hanoi to attend the annual meeting of the Joint Steering Committee that oversees the China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership. Media and academic commentary focused almost exclusively on Yang’s remarks on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The significance of Yang’s visit was that he came at all. It signaled that China wanted to prevent South China Sea disputes from rupturing the broader bilateral relationship. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The South China Sea and Joint Defense Procurement

By Koh Swee Lean Collin

Can ASEAN members join forces on defense procurement? It’s more complex than it seems.

A recent thought-provoking article in The Diplomat by Liang Tuang Nah titled “Joining Forces in South China Sea Defense Procurement” made some salient observations.
First, in the face of more assertive Chinese moves to enforce its extensive claims in the South China Sea (SCS), the Philippines and Vietnam need to project presence sufficient to “turn their de jure claims into de facto reality.” In the eyes of international law, effective administration over disputed territory holds more water over mere historical claim. The International Court of Justice verdict in May 2008 to grant ownership of Pedra Branca islet to Singapore and not Malaysia is a case in point.
Second, given Beijing’s moves to construct more patrol assets to project and sustain presence in the SCS, more needs to and can be done by Hanoi and Manila. There is no doubt about “need.” However, on “can be done,” the question is how. Nah’s central argument is therefore an interesting one: The Philippines and Vietnam can ramp up their patrol capabilities through joint procurement of technically less capable assets by exploiting economies of scale.
From an economic standpoint, the proposal appears highly attractive. But joint defense procurement is easier said than done. The thrust of Nah’s article is almost exclusively economic and, except for a brief mention, does not discuss political, operational or technical considerations. But joint defense procurement is not merely about economic expediency. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat